Wales captain Gareth Bale is being prepared for Thursday evening’s Nations League game in and against Belgium, on the fifth and penultimate match day in group 4 of the A division.
Maarten DelvauxSource: BELGA
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At the moment, however, it is not certain whether the 33-year-old winger will appear at the kick-off in the King Baudouin Stadium. Since his move to Los Angeles FC, the Welshman has only appeared twice at his new club in eleven matches, never completing the 90 minutes. He also played in Major League Soccer against Houston on Monday. He did not arrive in Cardiff until Tuesday afternoon. Not exactly the ideal preparation, because of the long flight, jet lag and the hour difference.
“However, you couldn’t say he had just got off a plane from the United States,” Welsh national team manager Rob Page told British press on Wednesday. “He looked so fresh. His preparation for the Nations League matches started immediately after the final whistle. That says something about his professionalism. He certainly has a chance to start against Belgium, but with the World Cup in mind, we don’t want to take any risks.”
The Welsh national team coach therefore wants to wait and see if Bale is fit enough to start against the Red Devils on Thursday. Wales trained one last time in Cardiff on Wednesday morning, before heading to Brussels. In Belgium there is no more training on the program. The Welshmen will miss injured veterans Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies, Harry Wilson and Joe Allen.
Wales are battling relegation in the Nations League, but Bale makes it clear that his focus this season is on the World Cup. In Qatar, Wales is there for the first time since 1958 and only for the second time ever in a World Cup final round. “It’s true that I haven’t played 90 minutes this season, but I’m still building up,” he told British press. “Of course every footballer always wants to play, but you have to be smart and build up towards the most important part of the season. Hopefully I will be in top shape at the kick-off of the World Cup.”